Video voices: Why Wimauma should matter to you and to everyone

To read this story in Spanish, please follow this link.
83 Degrees Media has spent the last year helping tell the stories of Wimauma, a mostly rural community in southern Hillsborough County that is home to more than 6,500 people; about 75 percent of Hispanic background. 

The stories are those of a diverse population, natives and longtime landowners, retirees from northern states as well as immigrants and migrant laborers. They are entrepreneurs, business owners, teachers, healthcare and social service providers, government workers, academics, artists, pastors, parents, farmworkers, domestic laborers and a multitude of private sector employees.
"Wimauma matters because every individual in this community has the inherent dignity and right to be an equal player and changer in this community.'' - Cheri Wright-Jones, Regional VP, Allegany Franciscan Ministries

The stories are important because Wimauma is facing rapid transformational change as the demand for housing in Florida grows, weather and disease shrink traditional agricultural production and investors look for new opportunities.

As change arrives, the questions become who will help shape that change, what will it look like and how will it affect local residents as well as the rest of Hillsborough County, Florida and the nation.

Watch this video, Wimauma Matters, to hear community leaders talk about why Wimauma matters to them and to you.

A transcript of Wimauma Matters follows:

Ismael Lebron-Bravo, Principal at  Wimauma Elementary

I think it’s just a hidden gem. I really truly mean that from the people you meet on a daily basis on the street. They value their children’s education. Honestly, I think Wimauma has been forgotten because it’s not known as a Brandon or a Lithia. But you’re starting to see the growth that is coming down here. And it can happen. I think it’s a good thing. I want more technology for our kids because that’s the way the world is going. Keep that small time feel to it, but at the same time exist in that technology. That’s what I want to see where Wimauma goes to.

Liz Gutierrez, Founder of Enterprising Latinas

Our organization is focused on serving women and helping women move out of poverty as a means to improve the quality of life for everyone in the entire community. And so Wimauma, for example, is a community of 25 square miles. It’s situated almost 30 miles away from the city of Tampa. And getting access to resources from there is very challenging. But we have a new opportunity here. And we want to be a part of the growth that is happening here because we want to make sure that those that are here are not pushed out. That happens when development occurs in a community. So let’s scale up. Let’s tool up. The talent is here. The aspiration is here. Why not Wimauma?

Rev. Bill Cruz Jr., Pastor at Good Samaritan Mission

What is Wimauma’s personality? The answer came:  Hard workers. And I thought, “Bam! How awesome is that?’’ If they are hard workers, and I believe they are, and all we are doing as charities is providing all this stuff, then we’re really not encouraging them to be the best that they can be. Now given opportunities to not only work, but opportunities to improve and to grow, I think people in Wimauma will flourish.

Cheri Wright-Jones, Regional VP at Allegany Franciscan Ministries

So when we outreached and when we asked the community what do you think is necessary to ensure this as a healthy, thriving, prosperous community, it was amazing that everybody across the board said much the same things. They wanted to see financial stability for their families. They also wanted to have economic growth and development. And lastly they wanted a better opportunity for their children. They want to ensure that their children had safe spaces. So why does Wumauma matter? Wimauma matters because every individual in this community has the inherent dignity and right to be an equal player and changer in this community. Wimauma matters because it is the fabric and diversity of this community that make it so unique. The very cultural experiences, the arts, the food. Where else in Tampa can you go and see this sort of diversity? And so Wimauma matters because everyone in this community matters.

You can read more Wimauma stories in both English and Spanish by clicking on the On The Ground listing in this page’s dropdown menu below the image at the top. 

This video story for 83 Degrees was produced by Julie Branaman of Branaman Photography.

To read more stories from the 83 Degrees Media On The Ground storytelling project, follow these links for English and for Spanish.

The 83 Degrees Media On The Ground storytelling project is supported by Allegany Franciscan Ministries.

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Read more articles by Julie Branaman.

Julie Branaman is a Sustainable Environment Video Creator, Editor, and Multimedia Photojournalist pursuing new visual experiences around the nation. Now based in Los Angeles, she and her husband James founded The Branamans Video Production. Julie is the former Managing Photographer at 83 Degrees and once worked as a photographer at The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com, and News Channel 8. Prior to arriving in the Tampa Bay Area, she freelanced in the Seattle area, working on national and international stories. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University. When not making images, she and James are likely to be found hiking, kayaking, or snorkeling their way around California, Florida, Maine, the National Park System, and America's unique landscapes in between.